I had the good fortune of watching Nick Jensen in person yesterday play against DU and I am more than impressed with this kid. I haven't seen him live in two years, but boy has he come a long way. Physically he is much bigger than he was the last time I watched him live.
In short, he was much the best player on the ice, and against a DU team with 7 NHL prospects. He played a ton in all situations and had two helpers on the night. He was very assertive with the puck and showed a ton of confidence. On the PP he took a feed from low in the corner and got off a low hard wrist shot before DU could adjust. The rebounded landed on the stick of a fellow SCSU player who put it in the net. On the second goal he made a beautiful feed on a 2 on 1 that his teammate tipped home. The 2 on 1 was interesting because 10 seconds prior, Jensen had rushed back to bail out his partner and void a quality scoring chance. His passing was great all night.
His game really starts with his feet, which are just phenomenal. He moves very, very well and gets up the ice so damn quick. His lateral movement is just sick for this level. I also thought he made very good decisions. I counted only one turnover from him and on a number of occasions, he opted for correct, but unsexy, simple plays/passes. I was most impressed with his ability and desire to block shots. I will admit that this is less intimidating in the college game, but let's not kid ourselves, it still hurts. He did not hesitate to drop to a knee to block them, even in some seemingly nonthreatening situations.
I don't think he will ever be a bruiser. He doesn't shy away from contact, but he isn't really a banger either. On a couple of occasions he pinched up into the neutral zone to throw hip checks, which didn't work well and got him out of position a bit. Although I thought his positioning and stick were fine in the defensive zone, he will need to continue to improve his defensive zone play. He can do some things at this level, because of his feet, that he will not be able to do in the AHL. Some might say he was trying to do too much in terms of pursuing the puck in his defensive zone. He got results, but he will need to be more structured at the next level. I also don't expect him to jump up in the offensive play quite as much as he does in college. I couldn't really tell if he was up in the play because he was cheating with his defensive positioning or because he accelerates so damn fast.
Anyways, don't sell the kid short. He is a player. I am not sure where exactly he falls within the organization, but be belongs in any conversation discussing Xman or Sproul. I will be excited to see him in GR at the end of the season.
Thanks for the report! Jensen is a guy I would really want to see play, but haven't found a way to do it yet. Based on what I've read, he belongs in the discussion with our other great d-prospects. The fact that he's right-handed plus skates and moves the puck well, is something we really need.
Always impressed the couple of times I got to see him. He is the best skater in the system, I really mean that on par with Ferraro and Quine if not better. Disagree with the physical part, he very much has reminded me of Kronwall when I have seen him. He is physical enough in the zone, but he has the take guys out element and uses his skating to just absolutely destroy guys from time to time. You get caught napping and he can make sure you stay that way for the rest of the game. He does need to dial back the hip checks not only because he is pretty hit or miss, but because a lot of times when he comes close to missing he is going to get his face pounded in for them. In college nobody makes him answer, in the AHL he is going to get a goon gong show the first time he fails at it. But overall so much to like, reminds me a ton of one of my favorite players from his alma mater Bret Hedican.